Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Went to GenCon

For the first time since 1999, I went to GenCon as a plain old gamer. No press pass, no looking for freelance work, no manning a booth for me. I played a bunch of games and just did what I wanted to do.

Of course, I picked up a sinus infection before the con, so I had to take it easy on myself. I'm not sure I made it to more than one of the events I originally signed up for, but it was easy enough to cash in my tickets for generics and system credit. I guess that means I have to go again next year, since I have $8 worth of event ticket credit!

Thursday: I ended up cruising the dealer's hall in the morning and ate lunch with the indomitable Rob Schwalb. That afternoon I played a game of Chainmail, the pre-D&D miniatures game. The game was a blast, and it's pretty nifty that I can now say I've played it.

That night, I ran a D&D game for a bunch of friends. They tracked down a necromancer who had stolen a sacred relic, battled orcs and bandits, and managed to survive despite at one point having 7 hit points between 4 characters. Good times!

Friday: More gaming, starting with a miniatures game. Song of Drums and Shakos is a Napoleonics skirmish game. In 2 hours, I learned the rules from scratch and got in two games. Highly recommended, along with the fantasy version Song of Blades and Heroes.

Once the game wrapped up, I launched an ultimately fruitless quest to find 15mm Napoleonic and fantasy minis in the exhibitor's hall. After lunch with Paul Tevis, I got in a session of the BattleTech grinder. I had an UrbanMech shot out from under me and lost a Hunchback to a back shot from a Cicada that nailed the 'back's ammo bin. After that, I took to the field in one of my all-time favorite 'mechs, the Axman (not the lame LRM-15 variant, but the original AC/20 configuration) and made up for lost ground. I cored a Warhammer, ripped a Raven in half, and killed an Enforcer with a single AC shot to its ammo bin.

That evening was dinner at Buca with friends and wandering the con and chatting for the rest of the night.

Saturday: This was my D&D day, with an RPGA game from 8 AM to 4 PM. We had an all-changeling party, which was fun, and my barbarian was perfect for a city inexplicable built around a giant pillar of fire. His basic hook is that's he's dumb but overly thoughtful and rages when stuff doesn't make sense to him. With an 8 Int, that's fairly often.

After the game was a late lunch, another circuit of the dealer's hall, and dinner and drinks with a number of game industry folks. We swapped stories about pets and weird fans. Good times!

Sunday: The final day of GenCon always has a bit of a melancholy tinge to it, at least for me. I played some more BattleTech with a friend, took care of a little last minute shopping and trades, and then headed to the airport. Between ice cream at the terminal and a nifty, final conversation about gaming with a few folks, it was a good end to the con.

Loot: Of course, half of the fun of GenCon is browsing what's essentially a giant, gamer's mall.

I bought/traded for:

1. A few of the Pathfinder metal minis and one of the few flip-mats I don't already own from Paizo. Can't wait to see the Reaper Pathfinder line!

2. A bunch of Reaper minis. I love browsing their booth at the show.

3. A pile of Shadowrun and BattleTech books. The SR Seattle book is pretty nifty.

4. Eclipse Phase! I can't wait to dig into this game. It looks really interesting, and what I've read so far has me wanting to play it.

5. A Dragon Dice starter set. I've wanted to check out this game since it first came out, and the starter was less than $20, so why not?

6. Who Would Win? from Gorilla Games. I picked this up based on a recommendation from Monte Cook. It looks like a great party game.

7. Action Castle! My major failure at the con was my inability to convince anyone to play this.

Honorable Mention: Gaming Paper. I didn't actually buy a roll, since I didn't think it would fit in my luggage, but I was really impressed by it. It's more than just simple paper. It has a parchment/scroll-like texture to it, giving it a pretty nifty feel. I'm going to order some once my gaming budget regenerates.

MIA Award: 15 mm Napoleonics and fantasy figures. I didn't find any at the show! Of course, I didn't exactly spend hours searching (I had games to play!) but I figured there had to be some somewhere.


Glenn said...

This might be a stupid question, but when you say you attended as a "plain old gamer" -- is this because you weren't assigned any duties? Are you no longer a WotC employee? Am I way behind the times regarding your current employment status?

jdebetolaza said...

Eclipse Phase looks very interesting!!! It got me hooked the moment I read the introduction on their website :)

Mike Mearls said...

@Glenn - I'm still at WotC. I asked to be left off the GenCon staff list this year so I could go there on vacation.

OrcStompRunner said...

Neat! I bought a Dragon Dice Starter too (I've had a pile for years and never played it.)

I also picked up a roll of Gamer Paper, I'm making maps on it this very evening for Sundays game.

It was cool running into you in your civilian form. (Psst I'm the nerdy guy who virtually drooled on you and admitted to being your fanboy. Now I have to wonder how many other people that describes.)